band members posing for photo“Few occasions in life are more hopeful than when musicians team up to form ensembles.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 115

If you’ve performed with a band or other group, then you know how magical collective music making can be.

You’ve probably also learned that group dynamics can get tricky.

Whatever challenges collaborating musicians face, though, they’re simpler to overcome when ensembles are founded with agreed-upon objectives and expectations.

To help prospective bandmates in any genre succeed, I’ve put together 12 basic questions for them to discuss as they consider whether to team up.

Before you weigh these questions with potential colleagues, do some playing together to verify that your abilities and interests match. Also ensure that all of you come with solid reputations for professionalism (punctuality, preparation, courtesy, and integrity).

12 Questions for Prospective Bandmates

  1. What are your individual goals as musicians, and how would working with a new group fit your plans?
  2. Would your ensemble exist for a finite period or would you collaborate indefinitely?
  3. Would you structure yourselves as an egalitarian group, a leader-run ensemble, or some sort of hybrid?
  4. What’s your group mission? That is, what styles of music would you perform, where would you play, what would be your group identity, and what’s your ultimate goal as an ensemble?
  5. Where and when would you rehearse?
  6. Where and how frequently would you perform?
  7. Do you have commitments that could cause scheduling conflicts?
  8. How would you meet any equipment needs?
  9. Which of you would oversee your group’s website, social media, and direct-to-fan activities?
  10. How would you manage bookings, marketing, and travel?
  11. If you’d arrange paying appearances, compose original material, or sell recordings and merch, how would you administer your rights and business affairs? Terms should be specified in a written and legally binding partnership agreement.
  12. What are some possible names for your group, and who would own the name?

The Musician's Way book coverLastly, if you intend to launch a professional ensemble but have little experience in the music industry, your prospects for success will increase if you consult a mentor during the formative process and as your group matures.

For guidelines to succeeding in groups large and small, see Chapter 6 of The Musician’s Way.

Related posts
The 4 Pillars of Professionalism
Interview with Oboist Joseph Robinson
Ten Tips for Collaborating Musicians
Toward Better Collaboration

© 2011 Gerald Klickstein
Photo © aispix, licensed from